Panama Canal expansion could impact Missouri ports

MODOT officials say the widened canal will open more freight shipment opportunities to Missouri.

Franklin School construction proceeds as planned

The $10 million project is being constructed next to the old school. It will open for the 2012 school year.

Dino's Pizza damaged by fire

The Cape Girardeau Fire Department estimates $250,000 in damages, but the building is not a total loss.

Mississippi River Basin nitrate pollution remains high

Nitrates flowing from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico contribute to the formation of areas known as dead zones.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Senator Blunt: Tax talks are a waste of time

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is pleased that President Obama is focusing more on the debt, however he is fed up with the talk of raising taxes.

Senator Blunt voiced his opinion Wednesday that the President is using the Republicans’ refusal to increase taxes as a means of avoiding serious financial debate.

Blunt is pleased with the President’s entrance into the financial debate… but he views it as a last minute one.

Senator Blunt says that the focus needs to be on spending … not on taxes.

“His party had total capacity to raise them. If they couldn’t raise them when they had those big majorities, there’s no way they are going to raise them now. So not only would I not be for it, but it’s a waste of time conversation, it’s not going to happen,” Blunt said.

Senator Blunt also says the President needs to stop looking at what he wants to do. Instead he needs to start looking at what he can do.

Tim Filla, KRCU

McCaskill blames bipartisanship for budget standoff

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill feels that the biggest obstacle to fixing the nation’s budgetary woes is partisanship.

The Missouri Democrat told reporters on Wednesday that too many politicians are not willing to defy the base of their parties.

In addition, she feels that those who attempt to fix the debt crises using only one mechanism such as spending cuts or revenue increases are, quote, “dead wrong”

She said that a balanced plan must be adopted instead of the slash-and-burn approach proposed by Republicans.

“They wanna cut off mid year, any programs that are currently there for corn growers and ethanol in Missouri. But they wont touch the billions of dollars we’re giving to big oil… what’s up with that?!” McCaskill said.

In addition to debt reform, Senator McCaskill discussed her opposition to Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan’s budget … and mismanagement of Arlington National Cemetery.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Clergy mad at Akin

Several pastors and ministers are dismissing an apology from Missouri Congressman Todd Akin for his statement last week in an interview that "at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God."

The clergy from the Republican Congressman's district delivered a letter to his office Wednesday morning, asking him to reconsider his words.

Akin made the comments while discussing a TV clip of the Pledge of Allegiance that omitted the phrase "under God" during NBC's broadcast of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament.

Reverend Krista Taves is a minister at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in Ellisville. She says the group is also asking Akin to reconsider his moral priorities as a political leader.

"And I think it's really dangerous when you turn something like the Pledge of Allegiance into a litmus test for moral faith," Taves said. "When you look at the budget that he just passed, it harms the most vulnerable in our society. And that is clearly contrary to the words of Jesus, who he follows, which is 'as you serve the least of these, so you serve me'."

Akin was not available to meet with the clergy when they delivered the letter.

Julie Bierach, St. Louis Public Radio

Koster settles with Smith & Associates Home Care

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster reached an agreement Wednesday with Smith & Associates Home Care, an in-home personal care service company in Hayti.

The settlement resolves allegations that Smith & Associates failed to ensure services were properly delivered to its Medicaid clients.

Chrystal Abernathy, a Smith & Associates employee, plead guilty in May to not providing services to a client. That client happened to be her ex-mother-in-law.

The company will pay the state seventy-four-thousand dollars in restitution, damages, and investigation costs.

Board of Regents approve FY2012 Budget

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Missouri State University’s Board of Regents approved its Fiscal Year 2012 budget on Wednesday.

The budget includes nearly 97 million dollars for its operations budget and approximately 35 million dollars for the auxiliary operations budget.

The board wrapped a 2 percent merit-based salary raise for non-faculty employees into the budget. Faculty will receive a salary increase of 1.75 percent and a 0.25 percent salary pool to fund post-professioral merit increases

Representatives from two design firms – The Lawrence Group and Cark Enerson Partners – presented updates of their plans for Academic Hall and Magill Hall to the Board of Regents.

The Academic Hall project is currently running slightly under budget. Construction is still scheduled to begin in February 2012.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New regulations allow more fireworks in Kentucky

LEXINGTON, KY (WUKY) - It took Tim Dixon and his brother around 14 hours to set up their fireworks stand this past weekend… they’ve got a prime spot in the parking lot a Super Wal-mart in Lexington. The tent is smaller than what Dixon is used to working under, but the stand is packed with the biggest and most expensive fireworks the brothers have ever sold. “It’s Class C Consumer Use. First time in the state of Kentucky, first time here in Fayette County. We’re excited; everybody seems to be excited about it. We’ve had people coming in comparing it to Tennessee and Indiana. We’ve had great response as far as the merchandise that’s available here,” Dixon said.

Kentuckians used to have to go out of state to buy class C, or 1.4, consumer fireworks. But that changed with the passage of House Bill 333. It’s completely changed the Dixon brothers’ inventory. They now carry roman candles, bottle rockets, and firecrackers.

Ed Cotterell browsed over the tables at the fireworks stand, looking over products labeled Mojo Magic, Texas Cyclone, and Jolly Roger. As he showed me a box of fireworks he picked out, it was clear Cotterell was prepared to spend well over a hundred dollars.

“I like a visual thing, but I like something that goes boom. So the louder the boom the better. I like something that shakes you deep down when it goes off,” Cotterell said.

“My son particularly likes bottle rockets so we got several bottle rockets. We got some things here that go way up in the air and go boom and make lots of light. These here are the titanium firecrackers. They supposedly make lots of light on the ground when they blow up. This is like a multi-shot firework. My favorite color is blue so that’s why I bought that one because it says blue on it. I don’t even know what it does!”

The new fireworks law doesn’t have everyone excited. Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs of the Lexington Division of Fire says the greater explosive potential from these bigger fireworks mean’s there’s a great chance for injury. Griggs has seen what can happen when people get careless.

“Significant hand and eye injuries. That’s actually very common with fireworks especially if you’re not doing it safely or you’re letting children handle them. And we have seen some structure fires that have occurred because of aerial devices – in the past illegal aerial devices – that have been fired too close to other structures and have caused problems,” Griggs said.

There used to be a saying among Kentucky public safety workers: If it goes up or blows up, it’s illegal. The fireworks legislation may have made that catch phrase obsolete, but police Sgt. Clayton Roberts does see a positive to the new law. He oversees Lexington’s Hazardous Devices Unit.

“The best thing about the new law is it clarifies what’s legal and what’s not and it clarifies the enforcement of it,” Roberts said. “In the past, although it was more restrictive, it wasn’t exceptionally clear and it made it difficult for us to enforce what was there. So on one hand there’s more allowable but it gives us a little more teeth to enforce problem areas.”

Roberts says Lexington police do not plan to have any extra patrols over the July 4th weekend to deal with fireworks. Instead, the public safety department has been proactive in getting the word about the safest way to use fireworks. Only adults should light the fuse, and the fireworks should be at least 200 feet away from people or property.

Fireworks vendor Tim Dixon says for some people, the public service announcements and safety demonstrations won’t make a difference.

“Because you have a lot of people that are really old on those traditions, throwing a bottle rocket up in the air and not worrying about where it goes. We can’t recommend things like that. You laugh with them, you understand what they do, but you have to promote the safety end of it,” Dixon said.

Local governments across Kentucky can pass stricter fireworks ordinances that supersede the state law, but Lexington officials plan to wait and see what happens this holiday weekend.

Brenna Angel, WUKY

Bones discovered in Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway

CHARLESTON, MO (KRCU) - Water has subsided in the Bird Points Floodway and farmers have returned to their land. But it's not the washed away top soil that has many talking. Instead, it’s the washed up… bones.

The fragments were discovered near the blasted section of the levee, in Mississippi County Missouri.

By time the Mississippi County Coroner, Terry Parker, and his team stopped counting, the bone fragments were spread out over six and a half acres of land.

Parker is unsure exactly how many bodies the found fragments are from, but he is confident that more bone fragments may be found in the area when they go to exhume those they have already discovered.

Parker believes that the bones are likely from the area around or even under the part of the levee that was blasted.

However he is less certain as to whom the bones are from.

"Could possibly be early Native American, it could be early American settlers that were going to the west. It could be people that had resided in the early 1900’s, and that was their homestead, and as common they were buried there on the family home property," Parker said.

The bone fragments as well as the site have been turned over by Parker and the county to the Missouri State Parks and Historic Preservation Team.

The team is now tasked not only with discovering what time period the bones are from, but also what people the bones are from.

"You know if it’s American Indian, you know we have certain policies we have to follow and leave them as undisturbed as possible," Parker said. "So I think that right now they are in process there in the process of investigating, doing forensics to determine the nationality of the remains. And then at that point you know the process of collecting and reentering will happen."

Parker says that the process may take some time due to the degree of decomposition as well as the need for an accurate identification of what people the fragments are from.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Guard warns citizens that flood could last for months

State emergency officials are expecting Missouri River flooding to move across the state in the coming months.

The Missouri National Guard is warning residents along the swollen river if flooding starts to go down, it’s no sign the flood fight is letting up.

The Guard has more than 200 citizen soldiers working with local agencies in flooded areas, protecting abandoned property and even flying Blackhawk mission to drop sandbags.

The Missouri National Guard’s director of plans and operations, Colonel David Boyle, says river stage forecasts can be deceiving.

“This fight will expand as it expands from northwest Missouri across to the lower Missouri all the way over to Saint Charles,” Boyle said. “ It also will ebb and flow, so whatever fights we’re in today- say it’s overtopping today, sometime in the future we’ll probably be revisiting that same fight with a breech or some kind of a failure or some kind of other problem. Or if it goes down we’ll revisit with overtopping again.”

The Guard is also using more than 30 Hum-V’s in northwest Missouri’s flood areas and 11,000 Guard soldiers are available to state officials to help during the next two months.

Flood waters from the Missouri River are not expected to cause additional flooding on the Mississippi in Southeast Missouri. However, the Army Corps of Engineers cautions that a rising Ohio River may cause a bump in river levels south of Cairo.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV with Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three insect infestations converge on Southeast Missouri

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Three insect infestations are converging upon Southeast Missouri farms and forests, according to researchers at Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Agriculture.

The Japanese beetle, emerald ash borer, and gypsy moth are all exotic insects that have been present in the United States for an extended period of time.

They just haven’t been as prevalent in Southeast Missouri, according to agriculture professor Sven Svenson.

"Some people have described it as a bit of a biological perfect storm," Svenson said.

"We know these pests exist. There are researchers already working on control measures and have been for decades in some cases. The difference is, where we’re located in Missouri, we are on the pioneering spread of these pests that are spreading from the East Coast, and then there are some that are spreading from the north down this direction, some that are spreading from the West in this direction. And so being located right where we are in the Heartland, right in the middle of the country, they are all going to reach us all at the same time."

Svenson expects it will take between 2 and 25 years for complete infestation.

The Japanese beetle feeds on a wide variety of food crops. It is particularly attracted to legumes such as green beans and soy beans. The gypsy moth damages orchards and forests, while the emerald ash borer devastates ash trees.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Corps considers an additional floodway

The Army Corps of Engineers is looking at building a new floodway on the Mississippi River.

The Corps utilized three of its four floodways on the Mississippi this spring, including the Birds Point floodway in southeast Missouri.

The Corps designed its original management plan in the 1930s. It includes two floodways in southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana, according to Corps spokesperson Bob Anderson.

“They were both disapproved by the states and the local citizens living in those two areas. It would just be one additional floodway, but we’re not sure exactly where that would be located,” Andersaid.

The Corps is currently building a temporary levee to protect the Birds Point-New Madrid floodway from additional flooding. River levels are expected to increase due to flooding on the Missouri River and a rising Ohio River.

Anderson says that initial estimates to rebuild the system range from 700 million and 1.4 billion dollars. Those estimates could go as high as 2 billion dollars once the remaining floodwaters pass through the system.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Flood fight continues in NW Missouri

ST. JOSEPH, MO (KXCV) - More than 2 hundred Missouri National Guard and Air Guard Soldiers are now fighting the flooding Missouri River.

Monday at Rosencrans Air Base near St. Joseph, Governor Jay Nixon got an extensive briefing from the Guard and heard the Missouri will rise even higher throughout this week.

"The bottom line is the purpose is to say to everybody across the Show-Me State, all the way from that Nebraska-Iowa border all the way to the Illinois-Missouri border, we are standing up flood fighting operations, we are standing with the locals," Nixon said. "We expect to continue to be in this operation for many, many weeks."

After the operational briefing by the Guard, Nixon flew in a Blackhawk helicopter over extreme northwest Missouri to survey the flooding from the air.

At the same time he took off from the base, a town about three minutes away issued a voluntary evacuation order for its residents.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV

Monday, June 27, 2011

Comic convention draws crowd to Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The sixth annual Cape Girardeau Comic Convention hit town last weekend, drawing crowds from across the Southeast Missouri area to the Osage Center for three days of guests, games, and geek culture.

Local entrepreneur and convention organizer Ken Murphy says that the highlight of Cape Comic Con 2011 was this year’s special guests—one of whom has been years in the making.

"I was really lucky to get a hold of William Katt, and he was very accommodating for us to come to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and he’s been our media guest, television and movies," Murphy said. "And it’s taken me six years to get Billy Tucci. He’s the most successful independent creator in comic’s history."

Katt is best known for his starring role on the 80’s TV series The Greatest American Hero, alongside Robert Culp. Tucci is famous in the comic book industry for his independently published series, Shi, and currently works for both Marvel and DC comics as an artist and writer.

According to Murphy, over twenty local artists and creators attended this year, in addition to the special guests and dozens of vendors from across the region.

Attendance rose from last year, making Cape Comic Con 2011 one of the largest in the event’s history—and Murphy hopes to top himself next year.

Jonathan Atwood, KRCU

Ninety percent of Missouri hospitals now have E-records

A growing number of Missouri hospitals are using electronic health records. The Missouri Hospital Association recently assessed the electronic capabilities of 145 hospitals in the state, using both internal and state-health data.

The group found that 90 percent of hospitals now have some sort of electronic system in place, up six percent from last year.

Dave Dillon, with the Hospital Association, says at a minimum, those hospitals are able to electronically collect certain health information about patients. But he says really effective electronic systems are able to integrate their records with those of neighboring doctors’ offices and pharmacies.

“And those are probably the biggest challenges because of the history of everyone having own records, maybe not using common platforms and just the fragmented system we’ve operated under historically,” Dillon says.

Dillon says implementing such electronic systems can also be expensive, especially for smaller hospitals. But he says new federal and state incentive programs, clearer HHS guidelines for how systems should be designed, and reduced Medicare reimbursements to places which aren’t electronic in the future, are bringing more hospitals on board.

Already, about one fifth of Missouri hospitals now have advanced electronic systems in place.

Elana Gordon, KCUR

New petition would raise Missouri cigarette tax

A new petition aimed at raising Missouri’s cigarette tax has been approved for circulation. The measure would need about 90,000 signatures by next May to be on the ballot in 2012. Missouri’s cigarette tax currently stands at seventeen cents a pack, the lowest in the nation.

Public health advocates and long-time supporters of a tax-hike say it would significantly reduce the number of smokers in Missouri, curb health costs, and raise needed money for the state.

But, many are not on board with the new petition. Amy Blouin, director of the Missouri Budget Project, says it’s misleading.

“It brings in very little revenue and it’s designed to take something there’s strong public sentiment for, and skewing it so it benefits big tobacco,” Blouin said.

Blouin says that’s because the petition’s dollar tax increase would only apply to smaller, generic cigarette brands - but not the larger ones like Philip Morris. The petition’s sponsor is not taking calls about the initiative.

Elana Gordon, KCUR

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cape landlords voice concern at public forum

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The tension was palpable at a public forum over a possible rental inspection ordinance Thursday night.

The ordinance would create a system of mandatory inspections and licensing for those who either own or operate rental properties within the city.

The forum was attended mostly by local Cape Girardeau landlords, many of whom were restless and relentless in voicing their concerns with the possible ordinance.

Throughout the presentation and subsequent question and answer period many said that they felt there were already adequate regulations in place.

Many also felt that they are the ones who need protection against bad and destructive tenants.

Mayor Harry Rediger was at the forum and felt that it will serve as a useful tool to help the city to find the right course of action.

“That was loud and clear to us and um… well be studying it as we move ahead. As I told the audience before the left this is in the public input stage and this is just one part of the process,” Rediger said.

The forum was held at the Osage Center and scheduled to start at seven p.m. but was delayed so that more chairs could be brought in to accommodate the unexpectedly large assembly.

The city claims that the rental inspection program was the third most popular citizens’ initiative from two-thousand seven.

Tim Filla, KRCU

New Mo. Senate committee to look at legality of health exchanges

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer has created a Senate Interim Committee on Health Insurance Exchanges.

At question is the legality of Missouri creating its own health insurance exchange in order to meet federal health overhaul law requirements.

Missouri voters passed Proposition C last August, which blocked the government from requiring individuals to purchase health care.

Mayer, a Republican from Dexter, says that the committee is a response to concerns about federal law.

“I, along with many other state Senators, have some concerns that complying with the federal law and creating a health insurance exchange, could be and would be in violation of state law,” Mayer said.

The interim committee consists of four Republicans and two Democrats. Mayer says that they will begin work within two or three weeks.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Nixon hints at special session

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Governor Jay Nixon hinted Thursday that he may be prepared to call lawmakers back to Jefferson City for a special session on economic development.

A major economic development bill that created 360 million dollars in tax incentives to boost Lambert Airport as a hub for Chinese cargo got tangled up in a political dispute on the last day of session.

Elected officials have been pushing for Nixon to bring the General Assembly back to complete the job.

Nixon repeated his stance that he won’t call a session unless there’s consensus on an issue. But he says negotiations have gone well over the last five weeks.

“I think that we are headed down a path that if folks are serious and they roll up their sleeves, we might be able to meet that three-part test and get people to provide us some additional tools,” Nixon said.

The dispute centered around attempts to rein in tax credits, especially ones given to companies that want to rehab historic buildings.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fire kills two toddlers, one adult in Chaffee

CHAFFEE, MO (KRCU) - A house fire early Wednesday morning killed two toddlers and an adult in Chaffee. A fourth person was also in the house. She is being treated at St. John’s Mercy Hospital in St. Louis.

Twenty-one year old Andrew Biler died in the blaze, as well as three-year old Jaden Nicholson and two-year old Bryton Nicholson.

Chaffee Fire Chief Sam Glency says that the loss has been hard on this small community.

“You know, I’ve been in this fire service for going on 17 years. I’ve been the fire chief for 3 years. And this doesn’t come easy. You never get used to it,” Glency said.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Fire marshalls are investigating a cause. It does not appear to be intentional.

Glency says that the fire likely started in a bedroom in the back of the house.

Fire crews from Chaffee, Scott City, and Delta put out the fire within an hour and fifteen minutes.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Parks director hopes FEMA will cover Big Oak Tree State Park cleanup


Big Oak Tree State Park will reopen before the end of the summer, according to the director of Missouri State Parks. 
The park is located within the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway.

Bill Bryan says that the park should be available for day use, but the visitor’s center and other facilities will not be ready until next year. The buildings are structurally sound, he says. They just need to be cleaned up.

Bryan says that cleanup costs have not yet been determined.

“We’ll work with FEMA like the other land owners in the floodway and look for some help with that so that Missouri taxpayers, who have already paid to build that park once, it’s only fair that if the rest of the nation benefited from the operation of the floodway that the rest of the nation should help pay for the restoration of the park as well,” Bryan said.

Bryan says that it is too early to tell if the floods caused any ecological damage to the park.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

McCaskill wants answers from Corps

As volunteers and residents in Holt and Atchison counties in northwest Missouri continue sandbagging to keep the rising Missouri River at bay, Senator Claire McCaskill is looking for answers from the Army Corps of Engineers.

McCaskill says she feels the frustration and anger of residents living in the small communities that have been ordered to evacuate, and wants the Army Corps of Engineers to explain the motivating factor for releasing water from reservoirs upriver when they did.

“I need to understand that clearly. I want to make sure that decisions are not being made to protect recreational use of those reservoirs upriver, without focusing enough on potential consequences like we’re seeing now downriver. Those are the kinds of questions that need to be answered,” McCaskill says.

The Army Corps of Engineers is increasing the amount of water released from Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota this week, so the Missouri River will rise even more in Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.

Julie Bierach, St. Louis Public Radio

Meat processor charged with adding cow heart to ground beef

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has filed a lawsuit against a St. Louis-area meat processor for using improper additives and animal products.

Brothers Michael and Thomas Kolish run John’s Butcher Shoppee in Festus and Overland Park. The lawsuit alleges that the brothers used cow heart and soy in ground beef and sausage products.

There are no adverse health effects of consuming cow heart. However, it is a considered a cheaper additive than muscle meat.

State and federal laws prohibit products labeled "ground beef" from containing heart muscle.

The addition of soy can present health hazards for those with soy allergies.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Total cost of Missouri disasters won't be known until August

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon says it could be another month before the state knows the bill after the Joplin tornado and the ongoing north Missouri flooding.

Nixon says he’s hoping the $50 million he’s set aside for matching Federal Emergency funds will be enough, and is confident the Joplin tornado will be more costly than the flooding.

Still, Nixon adds the finances are holding for now.

"The bottom line is that we have the adequate resources to deal with the issues," Nixon said. "We haven’t been out-resourced here yet. There hasn’t been any decisions that we have made- that have been made- based on either overtime for troopers or necessity to call up the Guard or get the helicopters down, that have been limited by cost factors."

Nixon says with debris still being cleaned up in Joplin and the flooding in northwest Missouri continuing, it could be August before the state has a complete cost analysis of the disasters.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV

Missouri Army National Guard, Civil Air Patrol team up for flood fight

ST. JOSEPH, MO (KXCV) - State officials are calling the northwest Missouri response to Missouri river flooding the “flood fight”… and it’s becoming a literal battle.

Officers from the 139th Task Force at Rosecrans Air Base near St. Joseph have moved equipment out and away from the rising threat, and the Missouri Army National Guard is teaming up with the Civil Air Patrol on air reconnaissance missions over the river.

Colonel Greg Mason heads up Task Force 110 that’s in charge of protecting northwest Missouri from the flooding.

He says both planes and helicopters are being used with more on standby.

"Some of the assets that they may bring to bear are the electrical hoist in case there is a need to rescue people from water. The hoist can also lift huge sandbags and place them on the levees at a spot in an emergency if need be," Mason said. "And also smaller helicopters that we can use to fly the route for reconnaissance or aerial observation."

Mason says even civilian help is welcomed…alerting the citizen soldiers of possible levee breaches as soon as they happen.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV

Public defender case goes to Mo. Supreme Court

Both sides have filed briefs with the Missouri Supreme Court in a case involving whether the state’s public defenders can turn away cases.

The suit stems July 2010 when a division of the public defenders’ office stopped taking new clients after determining its attorneys had too many cases.

The next month a judge in Christian County assigned a public defender anyway and the public defender system took the matter to the Missouri Supreme Court.

They argue public defenders are risking breaking ethical and professional requirements by taking too many cases, even citing in a recent brief two bar complaints against their own attorneys.

And director Cat Kelly says such complaints are not unusual.

“Unfortunately, it’s not. We have a fair number of bar complaints from clients whose cases are not moving as quickly as they would like or whose lawyers are not able to see them as quickly as they would like,” Kelly said.

But Christian County Prosecutor Amy Fite, among the respondents in the case, says turning away cases is not a solution.

“That’s an extreme measure to take when you have a lot of other options available to you,” Fite said.

The Supreme Court has not yet decided whether it will hear oral arguments in the case.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Birds Point crop loss estimated at $85 million

A new study sets a value for the loss of crop production from the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway levee breach. 

The University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, or FAPRI, estimates total losses come to $85.2 million. The total assumes no harvest in the floodway for the year 2011.

FAPRI associate director Scott Brown says that the total cost could be even higher when one takes into consideration loss of economic activity for Mississippi and New Madrid County’s laborers, farm suppliers, and agriculture-related industries.

“Using some implant estimates available to us, we would have suggested that $85.2 million loss in value production would have amounted to about $157 million when you think about the indirect and induced effects on the economy in those two counties,” Brown said.

However crop insurance and federal government assistance program will help alleviate some of the losses.

“When you add all these things together - value production, lost variable cost, and then the government payments to help offset that - we come to about $42.6 million,” Brown said.

Farmers are trying to put crops in the ground, so Brown cautions that the year may not be a total loss and his figures could change with time.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Commander Premier files for bankruptcy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Commander Premier Aircraft Corporation has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

In May, the City of Cape Girardeau gave the company notice to vacate the city-owned hangar at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. The deadline passed, and Commander instead chose to protect itself from creditors with the bankruptcy filing.

Commander filed the papers on June 16 in Tyler, Texas.

Cape Girardeau City Manager Scott Meyer says that the filing changes the city’s timeline for a what he hoped would be the voluntary and smooth transition of the hangar.

“We will need a forced takeover, if you will, of the hangar. So we will have to wait for the court to do that. Typically that’s 30, 60 days. So that’s where it puts that,” Meyer said.

In a press statement, Commander Premier President Greg Walker said that his company choose bankruptcy in order to complete a sale of the company to Montreal-based Aero-Base, Inc. The statement mentions that the City of Cape Girardeau and a private party holding a large company note initiated legal actions against Commander.

Commander Premier made only eight of 59 rent payments to the city since it began operations in 2006.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Council passes nuisance party ordinance

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The city of Cape Girardeau is now just ten days away from enacting a new ordinance that aims to bring an end to what it views as nuisance parties.

Bill number 1181, aptly dubbed the nuisance party ordinance, was approved at Monday nights City Council meeting.

The ordinance was first purposed by a group of citizens who were fed up with all night college blow outs in their neighborhood.

The ordinance seeks to curtail loud and unruly parties of over ten people by enacting tougher punishments for those hosting the parties, if need be.

Mayor Harry Rediger says that the city needed the ordinance.

“We were glad to get that brought forward this evening for the citizens. It’s been an ongoing issue and rightfully so, we should taken action; were glad to get it accomplished,” Rediger says.

A similar ordinance is on the books in Columbia, Missouri.

Even with Cape’s nuisance party ordinance, the mayor and members of city council are still planning to do more to end raucous college parties.

They plan to purpose an ordinance that will allow for landlords to inspect their property and potentially terminate the lease if they feel that parts of the contract are not being fulfilled.

The possible ordinance is intended to allow landlords and neighbors to deal with problem tenets and neighbors.

Mayor Rediger describes the nuisance party ordinance as a stop gap and the first step in allowing residents to take their neighborhoods back.

“That ordinance will, will uh protect even more the neighbors and citizens of our community because that will give us some teeth on the landlord side, this really does not,” he said.

A public meeting will be held at the Osage Center this Thursday at seven p.m. to discuss and get feedback on the matter.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Danforth unveils "Joplin Tomorrow"

JOPLIN, MO (KSMU) - Joplin business leaders have found a friend in former US Senator John Danforth as they try to rebuild their city after the May 22 tornado left nearly 5,000 people without jobs.

Danforth is spearheading a new non-profit organization called “Joplin Tomorrow.” It will provide low or no-interest loans to businesses that want to call Joplin home. The offer is also good for businesses hoping to expand in Joplin.

The former politicians said he will travel the state raising money for the fund.

“A lot of this is business helping business to create business for the future. That’s going to have a lot of appeal to people, I think, throughout our state, who want to do something for Joplin,” he said.

Danforth said other business recovery loans and programs are helpful—but they only seek to maintain the status quo a business held before the tornado. In contrast, he said, the “Joplin Tomorrow” loans will help businesses expand, even beyond what they previously were.

Five members of the Joplin business community will volunteer their time to administer the loans. Contributions will be tax-deductible.

The fund already has one million dollars: half a million from the Danforth Foundation, which ceased operating last month, and another half million from Joplin business owners.

For more information on the fund, you can visit www.joplintomorrow.org.

Jennifer Moore, KSMU

Moses named to 2011 College Baseball Lineup

Southeast Missouri State University’s Redhawks third baseman Trenton Moses was named to the 2011 College Baseball Lineup.

The 40-man roster consists of the best players in college baseball. Each conference is represented by a minimum of one player. Moses was the only Ohio Valley Conference player chosen for the honor.

Moses had a breakout season for the Redhawks, batting .395 with 53 RBIs and 11 homes runs. He was named the OVC Player of the Year and was named to the Louisville Slugger All-American Team earlier this month.

Monday, June 20, 2011

St. Francis unveils Heart and Cancer Center

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau has added a few more tools to help win the battle with cancer and heart problems. The tools come in the from of a new state-of-the-art Heart and Cancer Center.

The massive new center bolsters more than two-hundred thousand square feet of space, strewn over four floors.

The center includes the Cancer Institute that offers radiation therapy and a hair boutique, for those undergoing cancer treatments.

The institute is home to the third cyber knife in the state of Missouri, as well as some thirty-five medical recliners for chemo-therapy.

The new center is also home to the Heart Hospital, with five-treatment labs, a ten bed intensive care unit, and an additional fifty beds.

Marilyn Curtis, who was in charge of coordinating the project, is excited about what the new center could mean for the hospital’s patients.

“Over the last several years, we have been very, very fortunate in continuing to strengthen our cancer services that we provide,” Curtis said.

The center was unveiled at an open-house for the construction crew and their families, last Saturday.

The center will host many more open-house opportunities until the center is officially opened July fifth.

The new center was the largest privately-funded construction project in Cape Girardeau's history, with an $84 million price tag.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Bear trapping program expands to Southeast Missouri



CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Missouri Department of Conservation has expanded its black bear trapping program into Southeast Missouri. 

The Department began trapping bears in Southwest and South Central Missouri last fall. Department agents are now attempting to do the same in most Southeast Missouri counties.

Despite their efforts, no bears have been trapped in Southeast Missouri … though two bears were captured last week in Oregon County.

Black bears were thought to have been extirpated from Missouri in the 1950s.

But Conservation Outreach and Education Supervisor A-J Hendershott says that bear sighting began to return in the 1980s.

“Since that time, our reports have grown. We see more trail camera pictures. We see more tracks. We see more scat that is brought to is for identification. And so it’s very plain we’re seeing bears in Missouri and so the Department of Conservation need to be aware of what the population really looks like, how they are using the habitat, so we can more effectively manage that population,” Hendershott said.

Hendershott says that most of the Missouri bears migrated from Arkansas. Bears were reintroduced into Arkansas in the 1960s.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Photo: A juvenile male, weighing 150 pounds, wakes up in the woods after being trapped and measured by the Missouri Department of Conservation in Oregon County on Tuesday. (MDC photo by Candice Davis)

Newman asks for investigation into Akin voting

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - A Democratic state Representative from the St. Louis area is asking for a formal investigation into whether Congressman Todd Akin voted from the wrong address for the last two years.

Stacey Newman sent the request to the Secretary of State’s office on Friday.

It’s in response to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article that found Akin has voted in the last 10 elections in Town and Country despite saying since 2009 that he lives in Wildwood.

“I cannot address if there is an intent to be fraudulent, but there are too many suspicions, there are too many irregularities,” Newman said.

A spokesman for Akin – a Republican Senate candidate – called it a “non-issue.”

The Secretary of State’s office will forward the request to the St. Louis County clerk and prosecutor, who handle voter registration complaints.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Friday, June 17, 2011

Nixon vetoes voter ID bill

Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a bill on Friday that would have required voters present photo identification in order to vote.

The governor objected to the bill because he feels that is would disenfranchise the elderly and disabled because they are less likely to have a driver’s license or government-issued photo ID.

Nixon also said that he believes that the bill would discourage and impede citizens from voting, even though they may have been voting for decades.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Birds Point reconstruction underway

The Army Corps of Engineers began repairs to the Birds Point levee on Thursday.

The six-member crew’s first task is to smooth the levee at the crevasses. They will then bring each crevasse to a river level of 51 feet at the Cairo gauge.

Corps spokesperson Jim Pogue says that no time table has been set to restore the levee is its previous condition.

“This is an interim step that at least will restore some level of protection to the area. Then as funding becomes available we’ll be looking at the full reset back to the original condition of the levee,” Pogue said.

Pogue says that the Corps still has some design steps and a environmental clearances that must be completed before the levee is brought back to its original height.

Engineers are also working to remove leftover explosive slurry that is still present at the crevasses.

The current operation is being funded by federal dollars instead of money offered by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to fund a temporary levee.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Redhawks Athletics Director John Schafer retires

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast Missouri State University’s Athletic Director announced his retirement on Thursday.

John Schafer came out of retirement to helm the Redhawks’ athletic program in 2008. During his tenure, the football team won the Ohio Valley Conference Championship, the baseball team continued its success, the gymnastics team won two conference championships, and the Redhawks swept the men’s and women’s shot put and weight throw titles at the OVC Indoor Championships.

Interim Associate Director of Athletics Brady Barke says that Schafer’s personality will be difficult to replace.

“He did such a wonderful job of creating camaraderie within the department and the university. But then also bringing back people in the community that we really needed,” Barke said.

The university will conduct a nationwide search to fill the position. Cindy Gannon will serve as interim athletics director.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Senate votes to cut $6B ethanol tax credit

The U.S. Senate has voted to end a six billion dollar a year tax credit supporting the ethanol industry. But ending the subsidy would still leave ethanol with lots of federal support.

The Senate vote has a prominent ethanol export tolling the bell for the blending credit.

Professor Bruce Babcock, who drives past miles of corn fields on his way to work at the University of Iowa, says this would do the ethanol industry no harm. "The writing is on the wall that this ethanol tax credit is not long for this world," Babcock said.

Federal mandates already require oil companies to blend ever more ethanol into gasoline.

Looks like we’re going to be relying on the biofuels mandates to make sure blenders use biofuels, rather than bribing them to use it with six billion dollars," Babcock said.

In fact, Babcock thinks killing the subsidy could actually help ethanol by removing the stigma of being a subsidized industry.

It may strengthen support for the ethanol mandate, and the tariff on imports. Long as those two hold up, Babcock thinks ethanol’s golden.

Frank Morris, Harvest Public Media

No flooding expected in eastern Missouri

How much the Missouri River floods in the eastern part of the state will depend on summer rainfall.

That’s what Colonel Tom O’Hara of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told reporters at press conference in downtown St. Louis Thursday morning.

The commander of the Corp’s St. Louis District says if we get average rainfall spread throughout the summer, we can expect only minor flooding.

“That could change based on additional rainfall, if we get higher than normal rainfall, or we get concentrated rainfall in various areas,” O'Hara said.

O’Hara says heavy rainfall would cause the Missouri River to overtop most of the agricultural levees between Washington, Missouri and the confluence.

Record high flows at upstream Missouri River dams will keep river levels above flood stage in our area through the end of August.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Corps to rebuild Birds Point levee

The Army Corps of Engineers is going to rebuild the Birds Point-New Madrid Floodway levee.

In a written statement, Governor Jay Nixon said that he had spoken to Major General Michael Walsh about the decision to rebuild the three breach points in the levee.

The decision allows a certain level of protection for farmers who have already begun to work the fields in the floodway.

And the Corps may have some extra money to work with. Representative Jo Ann Emerson said that one billion dollars in funding has been added to the House Energy and Water Appropriations Act, including nearly 560 million dollars for the lower Mississippi River and tributaries, which includes Birds Point. The bill could be voted on within a month. If passed, the funds would be available on October 1.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

USDA to promote biomass energy crops in Missouri

The USDA has chosen two new areas in Missouri to participate in a program promoting biomass energy crops.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the program will pay farmers to plant giant miscanthus, a perennial grass that can be used for energy production.

Vilsack says the project hopes to enroll more than 8,000 acres around existing biomass conversion facilities in Columbia and Aurora.

“The biomass conversion facilities will essentially pelletize the miscanthus and then use it for agricultural heating, for power generation, for residential heating and potentially for export opportunities as well,” Vilsack said.

An area of up to 50,000 acres in western Missouri and eastern Kansas was approved for participation in May.

The USDA has also announced the selection of new biomass program areas in Arkansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

McCaskill will not change her use of social media

In the wake of "Wiener-gate," in which Congressman Anthony Weiner has acknowledged exchanging sexually suggestive messages and photos through Twitter, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says the scandal will not change the way she uses social media.

Senator McCaskill has embraced the use of social media and uses Twitter daily. She says it's fun and keeps her grounded and connected to people in Missouri. McCaskill says even as Congressman Weiner's use or mis-use of the popular social networking site has some calling for his resignation, she will remain an active Tweeter.

"The problem was not with Twitter. The problem was with the Twit, who clearly has issues," McCaskill said.

McCaskill says she is the only one who Tweets from her account. And her messages are unedited and have not gone through any review process. She thinks more Senators should use social media in this way.

Julie Bierach, St. Louis Public Radio

New federal air standards proposed for mercury

Tougher new federal air standards proposed for toxins like mercury would provide huge benefits in Illinois, according to a new report from the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

It says those benefits range from healthier kids and lower healthcare costs for businesses, to being able to eat fish from local streams, rivers and lakes.

The feds held hearings on the proposed new standards last month, and are expected to finalize them over the next few months. Howard Learner of the Environmental Law and Policy Center says in Illinois, protecting children's health needs to be a priority.

"It's time for both industrial boilers and for coal plants to clean up, reduce the amount of mercury pollution that's going into the environment and lead to safer water in the Great Lakes, in our rivers and streams, and protect kids' health," Learner said.

Learner says Illinois made progress in reducing mercury pollution after a 2006 agreement required coal plants in the state to install mercury controls. But he adds the federal standards would be the first to reduce mercury from industrial facilities as well as coal plants.

Some members of Congress have vowed to fight the proposed rules, saying they will hurt business and cost jobs.

Jennifer Fuller, WSIU

Disaster assistance available in Cairo

CAIRO, IL (WSIU) - Disaster assistance advice is available in Cairo and other areas in southern Illinois.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Spokesman Sam Ventura says those who want damage assistance should apply by phone or on-line (www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance or by phone at 800-659-2955) before visiting the Disaster Recovery Center in Cairo.

"They're calling because they have had damages because of the flooding. And now that the counties have been declared disaster areas by the President, they can qualify for federal assistance," Ventura said.

Residents of the following counties are eligible for individual assistance: Alexander, Franklin, Gallatin, Hardin, Jackson, Lawrence, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Saline, White and Williamson.

One center is located at Emerson Elementary School, 3101 Elm St. in Cairo. Hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily (including weekends) through June 21, and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily (including weekends and July 4) from June 29-July 6.

Another disaster recovery center will open on Thursday in Junction at Gallatin School, 5175 Route 13.

Jennifer Fuller, WSIU

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Commander Premier still in airport hanger

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The aircraft company Commander Premier is forcing the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport’s Advisory Committee to make tough decisions.

The company is more than one million dollars behind on the rent for the usage of the hangar it currently occupies.

Airport Manager and committee member Bruce Loy says that the board is recommending that the city does not reach any side agreements on the hanger with any company until Commander Premier has vacated the property.

“We are working with the city and at some point in time if they are not going to get out on their own, we will probably need to lock the facility up,” Loy said.

The committee stated that, to date, it does not appear that Commander Premier has even begun to move out of the hanger.

Commander’s deadline for vacating the hangar is Thursday.

The Airport Advisory Board also discussed the air traffic control (ATC) at their meeting Tuesday night ... and there is little relief in sight for ATC operators at Cape Girardeau’s Regional Airport.

Currently the ATC at the airport is in operation 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many other airports run their ATC for about 12 hours.

But Cape’s airport also only has three full time ATC operators on staff.

The airport’s Advisory Committee wants to hire another operator; however a lack of funds means that they will have to look first for funds to train a part time operator to help out.

Despite this, Loy holds out hope for the future.

“Down the road we are hopeful, that maybe can use that person if we can get the find mores maybe to turn that into just, just a part time controller so if we could turn that into a half time. We would probably be able to go into a 12 hour operation,” Loy said.

Nevertheless the airport will first have to locate funds.

The airport has fewer operators then many other comparable airports in Missouri, but it has more flights.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Discrimination lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch will go forward

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - A Missouri appeals court has ruled that a gender discrimination lawsuit against Anheuser-Busch can go to trial.

It's a case that Anheuser-Busch wanted to handle outside the courtroom.

Francine Katz – once AB’s top female executive – sued the company in 2009, alleging that she had been systematically paid less than her male predecessor.

AB argued that several clauses in her contract required that the lawsuit be handled in arbitration. A trial court said no – saying that Katz had never agreed to one clause and that a second clause was invalidated when Belgian company In-Bev took over AB in 2008.

The appeals court agreed with the lower court ruling.

Katz’s attorney called the ruling “gratifying.” AB did not return calls for comment, but has said in the past that the Katz was paid fairly.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

More funding for dog breeder oversight

ST. LOUIS , MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Missouri’s budget for next fiscal year includes 1.1 million dollars more for oversight of dog breeders.

Governor Jay Nixon highlighted the funding at a press conference Tuesday at the Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis.

The move comes after the governor helped craft a compromise bill this spring that toughened state oversight of dog breeders… but scaled back some provisions of the voter-approved initiative Prop B.

Humane Society of Missouri president Kathy Warnick says the group has no regrets about the compromise.

“This is a monumental step forward towards improving the quality of life for these animals that in many instances have been suffering in exceptionally substandard conditions,” Warnick said.

The increased funding will be used to hire more veterinarians, inspectors and other enforcement agents.

Attorney General Chris Koster says his office has created a Canine Cruelty Protection Unit and has already used new authority to shut down two dog breeders in the state.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri unemployment rate holds steady

The latest numbers from the Missouri Department of Economic Development indicate that the unemployment rate is holding steady in Missouri.

The state’s unemployment rate held even at 8.9 percent in both April and May … the lowest level of unemployment since April 2009. The national unemployment rate is 9.1 percent.

Missouri Department of Economic Development spokesperson John Fougere says that much of the growth came from manufacturing.

He adds that it will be interesting to see how the floods and the catastrophic tornado in Joplin will affect employment trends moving forward.

“There’s just this terrible loss for people who lose their jobs, lose their homes. On the flip side of that, when the rebuilt begins, there tends to be sometimes a bit of an economic effect where things pick because, again, there is going to be a lot economic activity that is tied to the rebuild,” Fougere said.

More information about specific counties that were affected by flooding will be released next week.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Linnes out at SoutheastHEALTH

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Southeast HEALTH announced on Monday the sudden resignation of its CEO, Debbie Linnes.

In a prepared statement, the hospital cited "differences in management philosophies" for her resignation.

Linnes will be replaced by Wayne Smith as interim CEO. Smith joined SoutheathHEALTH in September 2010 as Vice President of Human Resources and Development.

Linnes became Southeast HEALTH CEO in August of 2009.

Officials from Southeast HEALTH were not available to comment Monday on the resignation or on Smith’s appointment as interim CEO.

Linnes’ resignation is effective immediately. The hospital has not yet released information about a job search to replace her.

Linnes replaced Jim Wente, who retired in 2009. Wente spent 19 years at the helm of SoutheastHEALTH.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Mississippi County sheriff vigilant of those who enter floodway

MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, MO (KRCU) - The Mississippi County Sheriff has stepped up patrols in the Birds Point New Madrid floodway.

The increased security comes during a time when thefts have been reported in the New Madrid County section of the floodway.

Mississippi County sheriff Keith Moore says that have been no reports of theft on his side of the flood plain, but he still have seven officers who patrol the area and check who enters the floodway.

“We’ve got people that just seems to think that they go down to a place and if there is something on the side of a levee or there something somewhere, they can just pick it up and put it in their vehicle and leave,” Moore said.

Sheriff Moore says that the job is made even more challenging by damage to roads in the floodway. He says that people that don’t have any business in the floodway should keep out … such as a group of teenagers that he had to run off who were trying to go swimming in a newly created blue hole.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Reimann named as finalist for National Teachers Hall of Fame

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The College of Education at Southeast Missouri State University announces that Carol Reimann was named one of five finalists for The National Teachers Hall of Fame.

Reimann, a literacy specialist in Southeast’s Regional Professional Development Center and former Missouri Teacher of the Year, spent 33 years as a first grade teacher.

Reimann identified students’ needs and tailored her instruction to meet them. Reimann also focused on parental involvement, visiting families at home and having families visit the classroom so they would know what their children were learning.

The National Teachers Hall of Fame noted that with the accomplishments and contributions of literally thousands of exemplary teachers throughout the country, being considered a finalist for this most prestigious professional honor is indicative of the influence Reimann has had on the lives of her students.

Disaster aid to Missouri tops $21 million

Missouri residents have been approved for more than $21 million of federal disaster aid following tornadoes and flooding, according to the Associated Press.

That number is likely to keep rising. The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday that more than $12 million has gone to individuals hit by the Joplin tornado.

The rest has gone to people affected by flooding in southeast Missouri, a tornado that struck St. Louis and other severe weather since May 9.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Old Jefferson named to endangered historic building list

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Old Jefferson School in Cape Girardeau has been added to the state’s list of most endangered historic buildings.

The school is the oldest standing school building in Cape Girardeau. It is significant because it is the only remaining school that educated African-American student during segregation, between the years 1953 and 1955.

Jefferson took over as the African-American school after the John Cobb School burned down.

The building is already on the National Register of Historic Places. Historic preservationist Terri Foley says that the most endangered historic buildings list does not open Jefferson School to any new legal protections or funding avenues.

“It’s basically telling the Cape Girardeau community and the state of Missouri, look at this building. It’s endangered. It played a significant role. It’s a significant historical building. Something needs to be done about it or you are going to lose very valuable historic resource,” Foley said.

Guy and Rene Tomasino currently own the property and they are trying to sell it. Foley says that the building could be used as an office building, community center, health care clinic, or as an apartment complex, such as the old Schultz school.

Twenty-one Southern Illinois counties will receive federal assistance

Governor Pat Quinn says 21 southern Illinois counties are eligible for federal disaster assistance following flooding earlier this year, according to the Associated Press.

State and local governments can seek reimbursements for 75% of their eligible expenses related to flooding and storms that hit southern Illinois in April and May.

In May officials from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency met with local governments in nearly two dozen counties. State officials say the review showed that the cost to state and local government was $20 million.

Corps: Missouri River flooding won't affect lower Mississippi

The Army Corps of Engineers says that flooding on the Missouri River will not cause additional flooding on the Lower Mississippi River. The Corps also says that Missouri River flooding will not cause more floodwater to enter the Birds Point New Madrid floodway unless a significant amount of rain falls on the region.

In a press release, the Corps states that river levels should continue to fall at Cairo. River levels at Cairo would return to flood stage only with 5 to 7 inches of rain over a widespread area on the lower Missouri, middle Mississippi, or middle or lower Ohio River.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nixon noncommittal on voter ID

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Governor Jay Nixon says he hasn't yet decided what he'll do with legislation that would put a voter I-D requirement on the ballot in November 2012.

During his 2008 campaign, Nixon called the requirement "onerous." But he sidestepped a question at a bill signing in St. Louis Friday about whether he'd veto the new measure, saying he had not fully reviewed the bill.

"I said what I said. Obviously we're always trying to work to make voting as easy and efficient for people as possible. It's an important part of democracy, we like to have people to be able to get to the polls and vote in an organized and appropriate way," Nixon said.

A Missouri judge in 2006 struck down a similar measure as unconstitutional. The new version means a photo ID requirement would not take effect without voter approval.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Nixon authorizes prescription drug assistance program

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Governor Jay Nixon signed legislation Friday reauthorizing the state's prescription drug assistance program for low-income seniors for three more years.

Missouri R-X pays half of the cost of prescription drugs, including co-pays and deductibles, for eligible seniors. It's designed to cover the gap in Medicare prescription drug benefits known as the donut hole.

The governor says the program will still be needed even as President Obama phases in his overhaul of the health care system.

"There could be some rules and regulations later on but the line is that this extension was necessary. There is no other federal law that is or will completely take care of this problem," Nixon said.

More than 212 thousand individuals are enrolled in MO R-X. The legislation authorizes 20 million dollars for each of the next three years, which the governor's administration says is enough to cover those who are enrolled.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Nixon: State is prepared for Missouri River flooding

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - Governor Jay Nixon says the state of Missouri is well prepared for a surge of water that's heading down the Missouri River.

The Missouri National Guard is working with local communities on flood preparation.

The floods are driven by record releases from five reservoirs near the Missouri's headwaters.

In the past, Governor Nixon has criticized releases from the dams, especially those that are scheduled every spring to help with the breeding of an endangered fish.

But the water is coming, he said today, and his role as executive in chief is to get ready for it.

"Our focus is on making sure that we are keeping life and property safe, making sure communities are prepared, and being a strong lifeline to help them rebuild afterward," Nixon said.

A Corps spokesman says the agency delayed the release for as long as possible help ease flooding earlier this month along the Mississippi River downstream.

Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Cape Area Family Resource Center to close its doors

Many residents south of Shawnee Parkway in Cape Girardeau feel that they have been forgotten because they are more and more frequently forced to leave their community in order to get assistance.

Now the Cape Area Family Resource Center, one of the last hold outs bucking this trend, is scheduled to close its doors in early July if it cannot find more funding soon.

The Center currently serves members of the community from nearly every age bracket.

Interim Director Pat King fears what the closure could mean for the children she serves.

“So many times people from… I’m from this community two blocks over three blocks up born and raised live in this community by choice raised my kids in this community. But if the center closes there’s not going to be anything for them to do. I mean you don’t gotta be a scientist, you can drive up and down streets all day and see kids that should be in school that are just hanging out. And I fear that’s only gonna get worse,” King said.

Despite the challenges, King and members of the Board of Directors state that they are hopeful that even if the center closes they will be able to still provide some services in some way.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Corps wants to partner with local, state agencies to rebuild Birds Point

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - The Army Corps of Engineers is looking to partner with local and state leadership to repair the Birds Point levee in Mississippi and New Madrid Counties.

Governor Jay Nixon made available 3 million dollars in state funds to build a temporary levee this year. The Corps’ timeline would rebuild the levee by February or March of 2012.

Major General Bo Temple is the Army Corps of Engineer’s acting chief of engineers. He toured the floodway on Thursday with Representative Jo Ann Emerson and Colonel Vernie Reichling of the Corps’ Memphis District.

Major General Temple said he discussed Nixon’s offer with him over lunch.

"As local entities determine how they might be able to contribute to this effort to begin to restore the levees, we will work in partnership with them through what we call our 404 process, which is a local preferred solution to an issue, to work in partnership with the state and local entities to address those," Temple said.

Levee districts are proposing their levee plans to the Memphis District of the Army Corps of Engineers today and Monday, according to Representative Emerson.

Major General Temple did not rule out the possibility of installing a gate at Birds Point in the future. But he said that decision will not be made until initial repairs are made and the system is restored to its designed specifications.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Sandbagging continues at nuclear power plant

BROWNVILLE, NE (KXCV) - Sandbagging continues at a nuclear power plant about 2 hours north of Kansas City.

Cooper Nuclear Power Plant at Brownville, Nebraska sits on the Missouri River and has water intakes from the Missouri for its operations.

Cooper Spokesman Mark Becker says about 3 hundred people have been working for the past two weeks making sure the emergency plan is in place if the flood waters would reach the plant.

"We have additional fuel oil brought into the facility that would run the diesel generators in case we lose our off site power. We’ve got other consumables that we’ve basically topped off at the plant in case we couldn’t have access to the plant by vehicle traffic," Becker said.

Becker adds Cooper Nuclear does plan on continuing to operate even if the river floods

He says the Missouri River will have to rise another four feet before sandbagging on the inside doors at the facility would start.

Current forecasts show that may have to happen around Wednesday of next week.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV

Thursday, June 9, 2011

River Campus announces 2011-2012 season

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Tickets for the 2011-2012 season at the River Campus are now on sale.

The upcoming season will feature a wide variety of touring companies as well as local productions.

Touring productions will include the Cab Calloway Orchestra, Blast!, Sister’s Christmas Catechism, the Golden Dragon Acrobats, the Moscow Festival Ballet performing Don Quixote, and the musical Young Frankenstein.

The Department of Theatre & Dance will put on performances of Hamlet, Into the Woods, The Pajama Game, and Lend Me a Tenor. They will also perform Fall into Dance 2011 and Spring into Dance 2012.

Assistant Director Bob Cerchio says that the season will bring something for everybody.

"The variety is always out there. The Theatre & Dance Department does magnificent performances. The Department of Music has so many different artists and ensembles. And also the Visual Arts are out there too with both the Crisp Museum and the Department of Art," Cerchio said.

There will also be classical music performances by Mark O’Connor, Allen Vizzutti, and the St. Petersburg State Orchestra, as well as the Southeast Missouri Symphony Orchestra.

Season tickets are now on sale. Individual tickets may be purchased after July 13.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

MODOT to close facilities, cut positions

Missouri transportation officials have approved a plan to cut positions, close facilities and sell equipment to bolster money for road and bridge projects.

The Highways and Transportation Commission approved the proposal today.

Under the plan, about 1,200 positions will be cut, 131 facilities will be closed and 740 pieces of equipment will be sold.

Transportation Department Director Kevin Keith said the move will save $512 million by 2015.

"We begin tomorrow trying to implement this, trying to put as much money in roads and bridges in Missouri and continuing to work how to fix the long-term issue, and that is getting folks to invest in transportation," Keith said.

Some jobs already have been cut, and officials will use attrition and transfers to minimize layoffs.

The plan also calls for district offices in Macon, Joplin and Willow Springs to close.

About 70 to 80 workers will remain in each of those areas under the supervision of an area engineer.

Maria Altman, St. Louis Public Radio

McCaskill says Corps is bogged down by special projects

According to Senator Claire McCaskill, the river systems are not the only things flooded in the nation’s heartland.

She feels that the Army Corp of Engineers is also suffering from serious bloating, but not from water.

Senator McCaskill has come out against Senator Roy Blunt’s assessment that a lack of earmarks is to blame for the poor performance of the Army Corps of Engineers.

In a weekly conference call with Missouri reporters, Senator McCaskill stated that to her the problem is not that the Corps isn’t getting enough money but instead they are getting too much.

"The problem is that the Corp has been handcuffed by special projects that have been dictated by congress and hasn’t been allowed to prioritize the project that they need to prioritize for management of the river systems. The earmarking has gotten in the way," McCaskill said.

Senator McCaskill, did state some level of optimism that with the stoppage of Congressional Earmarks, the Corps may be able to get back to work, on their terms.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Missouri River flooding could be devastating for agriculture

Rising water levels on the Missouri river are expected to swamp hundreds of thousands of acres of crops and halt barge traffic.

The threat of decreased crop acreage in the Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri is driving prices for corn and soy beans Wednesday.

Ron Plain is a Professor of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri. He says flooding along the Missouri River could be devastating for bottomland farmers.

“The water level is going to be up for over a month, some talk of maybe two months, which means there won’t be any crops harvested off the land this year, because by the time water level goes down it looks like it will be too late to get a crop grown before frost shows up,” Plain said.

Plain says Missouri is a major producer of soybeans, planting some 5.3 million acres this year.

Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

St. Joseph prepares for Missouri River flood

ST. JOSEPH, MO (KXCV) - St. Joseph officials are very concerned about the coming flooding on the Missouri River.

Donna Miller is the secretary of the board overseeing the levee that protects St. Joseph’s stockyards from the Missouri.

She paints a nightmare scenario for the 77 thousand residents of the northwest Missouri city if the levee is breached. St. Joseph would lose power and sewer. Factories would shut down, including the chemical plant, Omnium.

“You want those chemicals going down the river? I think not! The power outages… the sewer… I mean we can live without lights- we can get generators. But you can’t do anything with potty,” Miller said.

St. Joseph officials are working with the Corps of Engineers to use automated sandbagging machines to protect against a breech or overflow of the levees protecting the city.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV

Blunt still wants FEMA to pay 100% of cleanup for Joplin and May floods

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt continues to insist that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, should reimburse local governments for 100 percent of the clean-up costs from the Joplin tornado.

FEMA will typically reimburse governments for 75% of disaster-related expenses, but the agency will occasionally pay more for large, atypical disasters. FEMA is paying 90% of the clean-up costs for the Tuscaloosa tornado earlier this year.

FEMA has decided that it will reimburse 90% for the Joplin tornado. But Senator Blunt is not satisfied.

"When they reach extraordinary proportions, like the flood in May, or like Joplin did, the local governments can’t pay 25% of the cost of the cleanup," Blunt said. "Now we’ve got that down in Joplin where it would be 10%. But in Katrina is was 100% and it didn’t matter whether it was Katrina in New Orleans or Katrina somewhere in rural Mississippi. It was 100% reimbursement."

Blunt says that the government should only step in when people can’t take care of certain responsibilities on their own, such as levees and infrastructure.

As an example, he says that the federal government shouldn’t recompense homes that are uninsured when the owners willfully chose to not carry insurance.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Cape Girardeau may require licenses for landlords

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) -Cape Girardeau city officials want to issue licenses to landlords. They also want to inspect rental property at least once every three years.

Assistant City Manager Ken Eftink says that the city will work with the City Council to develop the guidelines that will be used to determine the licensing procedure and inspection criteria.

"It’s more of a neighborhood protection program," Eftink said. "If you have one house on the block that is in poor condition or has other problems, it really brings down the value of the other properties on that block. So to protect that neighborhood, you try to make sure that all the houses on that block are being properly maintained."

The city currently does not have a licensing system in place for landlords.

Eftink says that the inspection will include a checklist of basic items that should be in good condition, such as the foundation, windows, doors, chimney, and roof.

The city will likely hire two addition employees to act as inspectors. Eftink says the licensing fees should cover the cost of the program.

The City will work with City Council over the next few months to hammer out the details of the program.

The city will take input at a public meeting on Thursday, June 23 at 7:00 p.m. at the Osage Center.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Julie Thompson named as new Parks & Rec director

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Cape Girardeau’s new Director of Parks and Recreation bolsters a strong resume and even stronger ties to the city.

Julia Thompson has over thirty years of administrative experience in the field.

In addition to numerous other positions, Thompson served as Superintendent of Parks and Recreation in Kissimmee, Florida for fifteen years.

And she was the acting Director of Parks and Recreation in Seminole County, Florida prior to accepting the job in Cape Girardeau.

Thompson’s mother, Marge Thompson, was born and raised in Cape Girardeau, and after an interlude in Florida, she returned to her hometown.

City Manager Scott Meyer says that both he and the city are eager and enthusiastic to work with Thompson.

“She was a strong Candidate from very beginning. Her resume is just an impeccable resume. And then to follow that up with the type of enthusiasum and passion she has is it is really the complete package,” Meyer said.

The decision was announced at Monday’s City Council Meeting.

In other business, the City Council gave first-round approval on a nuisance party ordinance that would control late-night parties in residential neighborhoods. The law would hold party hosts responsible for misconduct at their events … as well as give police the power to order party-goers to disperse.

The Council will vote on final approval at the next meeting on June 20.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Cape residents travel to Poplar Bluff on steam train

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Select local residents had a chance to take a unique trip to by steam train on Monday.

The 844 is the last steam train ever built by Union Pacific. The train stopped in Cape Girardeau on Sunday and continued on its journey to Wyoming the following day.

But it picked up a few locals for a ride to Poplar Bluff folks like Jamie Burger of Scott County.

“I just think seeing all the countryside and kind of put a, in relation to the railroad tracks some of the small communities you don’t get to go by on the highway. I thought it was pretty neat,” Burger said.

The Union Pacific did not sell tickets for the ride to Poplar Bluff. Rather, tickets were awards through a social media campaign.

Cara Wilson, KRCU

Nixon urges Corps to construct temporary levee

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon urged the Army Corps of Engineers to construct a temporary levee to protect Mississippi County farmers this year.

The Army Corps of Engineers opened the Birds Point levee on May 2 to relieve flooding pressure on other communities upstream. But it flooded 130,000 acres of rural farmland.

Nixon said that a temporary levee would lead to economic recovery because farmers will be able to plant this year.

The governor said that his administration is willing to provide the necessary resources for the temporary levee.

The Army Corps of Engineers has established a timeline for rebuilding the Birds Point levee by March 2012.

Rockport prepares for flood

ROCKPORT, MO (KXCV) - This is day nine for Rockport, Missouri residents trying to prepare for the Missouri River Flooding.

This morning about 65 state prison inmates from Maryville – about an hour away – are in town to help residents fill more sandbags.

Earth dams are being built around a grain elevator two miles from the river … but the focus is the 10 feet of dirt around Rockport’s water treatment plant four miles from the river.

Atchison County Presiding Commissioner Kurt Livengood says while Rockport area residents are packing belongings, around 120 citizens have already moved out … based on the flooding in 1993 and again in 2007.

"The good part about this is most people in this county has been through this before. Those people who are moving out, have been through this before. They understand it- they know it way better than I do. And so it’s not hard for them to understand where we’re coming from," Livengood said.

The county’s emergency manager says 40 thousand sandbags have been filled in the past four days in Rockport, with 20 thousand of those protecting the water treatment plant.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV

Monday, June 6, 2011

Missouri elk released from holding pen

The 34 elk and five new calves in the Peck Ranch Conservation Area were released on June 1 from their three-acre holding pen.

Their release followed health tests performed by the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Peck Ranch will remain closed to the public for the time being to allow the elk to acclimate to their new environment. It will be reopened within a few months. The area is administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Conservation staff say that they expect additional cows remain pregnant.

Union Pacific steam train stops in Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Union Pacific Railroad’s steam locomotive number 844 made an appearance in Cape Girardeau Sunday.

The train and its engineers were met with welcoming words from Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger.

Union Pacific’s last steam powered train attracted both enthusiasts and families. Kerrie Waggener and her children came out to see the railroad’s “living legend” because trains are part of their family history.

"I was raised from a train family," Waggener said. "My father worked on Union Pacific as a conductor. So it’s always been important to us. Braydon, he’s always enjoyed trains from Thomas the train all the way up."

The 844 will continue on to its Little Rock destination today.

Cara Wilson, KRCU

Anvil shooters come to Farmington, competitor loses thumb

FARMINGTON, MO (KRCU) - The country’s best anvil shooters gathered in Farmington, Missouri this weekend for the U.S. Championship Anvil Shooting Competition.

The explosive tournament attracted competitors from as far away as Connecticut … but a Missourian walked home with the trophy.

Twelve teams stuffed black powder underneath anvils, lit fuses, and launched them into the sky.

Columbia, Missouri’s 22-year old anvil shooter Curtis Bollinger won the competition by blasting his anvil 202 feet into the air in the championship round. He beat Farmington’s own Gay Wilkinson, who has been shooting anvils for two decades.

"I wouldn’t lie to you. I would have liked to have won it," Wilkinson said. "But to see a young, first-time shooter to win it … that’s what it’s all about. We want to continue the sport. It gives me something to shoot at. It will probably weld that anvil shooter in him for the rest of his life."

One competitor was seriously injured in the tournament. Tim Ryan from North Carolina lost his thumb when his anvil prematurely ignited. He was airlifted to Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. Four member of a Science Channel film crew were treated for burns at a local hospital.

The entire competition was recorded by the Science Channel. The Mythbusters’ Tory Belecci served as the program’s host.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cape City Council to look at "nuisance party" ordinance

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Any college town that is home university knows that college parties are a fact of life.

However, a group of residents near Southeast Missouri State University's campus is finally putting its foot down… saying enough is enough.

The group has managed to get an ordinance on the schedule at next Monday’s City Council Meeting.

Councilmen John Voss says he is acutely aware that some of his constituents struggle with the all night cacophony.

He says he will support an ordinance that takes a much harder line on punishing party hosts.

"There’s two additional measures, one is the host of the party can now be fined or summoned and then if the party is not dispersed upon the first command or communication from law enforcement, then there is also the ability to fine the host for that as well," Voss said.

A similar ordinance is on the books in Columbia Missouri.

However, fraternities and sororities both feel that they are both being singled out.

While many ‘Greeks’ are willing to admit that their parties can be a bit loud, they still feel such an ordinance is not a good move.

One such fraternity member, Bryan Huff, feels that it would be more fruitful for the citizens of Cape to work with the Greeks.

"I wish that there was more communications going on with the people that this is an issue with as opposed to just trying to a-go about this way. Like… like I said I mean it seems like there’s ways we could be worked with, this type of issue as opposed to just trying to work against cuz I think it is just going to lead to bigger problems," Huff said.

While Huff says he understands what the community is trying to achieve, he feels Greek life would be easily assaulted by such measures.

Tim Filla, KRCU

Chinese lantern festival coming to Missouri Botanical Garden

ST. LOUIS, MO (ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO) - The Missouri Botanical Garden will host a Chinese lantern festival next year.

The exhibition - the first of its kind in the United States - will feature 26 large, brightly-colored lantern displays from China's Zigong province.

At a press conference Thursday, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said next year's exhibition will help attract tourism and showcase St. Louis as a global destination.

“People when they come to our city and they experience it, they like it. And that can only help us long-term, in terms of just promoting ourselves not only nationally but internationally,” Slay said.

The exhibition will run for three months starting at the end of May, 2012.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

Nordenia to open plant in Jackson

JACKSON, MO (KRCU) - A new Nordenia plant will be the first tenant at the Jackson Industrial Park.

The 180 thousand square foot facility will be about half warehouse and half production space.

Developing the plot will cost $22 million.

Nordenia president and CEO Bill Burke says that the new machinery at the plant will cost approximately $7 million.

“We also may be making some investment at our existing site down on 177. Depending on our business plans, it could be 2 to 5 to 10 million more dollars over the next three to four years,” Burke said.

The new plant will produce finished bags that are printed at the plant on Highway 177.

Burke told Cape Girardeau County Commissioners Thursday that the plant will create a minimum of 50 new jobs. He said it is possible that the new plant could generate 80 or 90 jobs.

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved an incentives package Thursday. Nordenia will pay half of personal property and real estate taxes during their first 10 years of operations at the Jackson Industrial Park, according to County Commissioner Paul Koeper.

“If they didn’t build here and they didn’t invest in this community like this, then we would be getting zero taxes, if that makes sense. But the fact that they are doing this, we’re giving them a little bit of a refund, a rebate. Only pay half of them, we’ll help you get through, get through the motions. And then at the end of the 10 years, you’re back on 100 percent,” Koeper said.

Nordendia currently employs 400 workers at their plant on Highway 177.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU

Emergency preparations in place for NW Missouri

ST. JOSEPH, MO (KXCV) - Emergency preparations are ramping up for Missouri River flooding during the next six weeks.

The Army Corps of Engineers is releasing dam pressure upstream in South Dakota, with about twice the normal amount of water on the way toward the Show-Me-State.

Sand bags are already being filled along the Missouri River north of Kansas City to the Iowa state line.

Thursday afternoon Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was in St. Joseph to be briefed on preparations and said coordination among state and local agencies has started in northwest Missouri, but residents across the state need to be prepared.

"This is going to run downstream, but it’s a number of weeks until anything gets to the extreme lower stage. We’ll move downstream and talk to folks in the same way we’re talking here as their challenges become more extreme," Nixon said.

The Governor says an emergency declaration is already in place anticipating the flooding along the Missouri and the state National Guard has begun working with state emergency management officials on response measures.

Nixon says there will be time to second guess and question the Corp’s decision to release water causing the concerns, but says now is the time to understand it is coming and concentrate on having preparations in place.

Kirk Wayman, KXCV

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Racial disparities continue among motorists

A new report by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster reveals that black motorists are still more likely to be pulled over than white motorists.

Overall, African Americans were 65 to 70 percent more likely to be pulled over than white motorists.

Hispanics were less likely to be pulled over than white drivers, but more likely to be searched. Blacks were also more likely to be searched than Caucasians.

White motorists had the highest contraband hit rate among all groups.